Question GTX 770 not working properly and stuck in low resolution

Jan 8, 2021
Hello there!

First of all, sorry for the long post. I tried to be as thorough as possible to describe what I believe has happened and what is the current state.

My GTX 770 is seems to be locked in the 800x600 resolution. This doesn't seem like a Windows issue as the low resolution kicks in on boot and even the UEFI settings and splash screen are cropped.
Here's a chain of recent events leading to where I am now:
  1. Random BSoD during gaming (Overwatch) a couple of weeks ago. No follow-up issues whatsoever.
  2. Yesterday, my OS froze and colors glitched out right after launching Divinity: Original Sin II. Then a BSoD appeared and PC rebooted into no video signal. Had to force shut it down.
  3. Booted again. Windows loading time was longer than usual. Video seemed to be working normally. Attempted to launch the game again but with the same result. Shut it down.
  4. Realizing that my DP cable and/or port could be faulty (see below), I attempted to disconnect my other display and booted with the Dell one connected via HDMI instead. Everything seemed to be running just fine once again. I even managed to start Overwatch and enter Practice Range (perhaps not the most GPU-intensive mode). I let it run for a couple of minutes (FPS being capped at 60 Hz, obviously). Then I decided to update my NVIDIA drivers just in case and proceeded to attempt with DP connection again.
  5. Rebooted with both displays connected in the usual way (Dell via DP and LG via DVI). Strangely, no video output over DP and a low resolution over DVI.
  6. Rebooted once again after fiddling with the display cables. This time only the Dell connected via DP. Booted normally, with native resolution and all available refresh rates. Started Overwatch but the same color glitch happened right after entering a match (menus worked just fine). This time I managed to see an error dialog from the game saying: Your Rendering Device Has Been Lost. Then the screen went black and PC rebooted.
  7. Booted normally, with native resolution, same as above. Attempted to play Overwatch once more, just to see if I can reproduce this problem consistently. Yep, same thing happened, but this time with a BSoD preceding the reboot.
  8. Shut the PC down. It was time to look at the hardware. No obvious signs of catastrophic damage. Decided to take out the GPU (some good amount of dust gathered on the radiators, haven't cleaned the PC in quite a while). This was actually the first time I did it with this PC (since I got it new in 2014).
  9. Removed the heat sink and the PCB cover. I'm definitely not an expert at diagnosing hardware issues by looking at electronic components, so I took some pictures: Cleaned the die and the heat sink, applied thermal paste (Noctua NT-H1) and reassembled. Put the GPU back in the PC and powered it on.
  10. This time the UEFI splash screen is cropped and Windows starts in the 800x600 resolution. No way of changing it, GeForce Experience not launched in the background, Device Manager reports the GTX is not working properly and had to be stopped (error code 43). So, it seems I must have messed something up.
  11. Shut down the PC, took out the GPU, inspected the PCIe and PSU connectors, reseated the GPU and powered it on again. Same result.
  12. Ran Windows Update and tried to perform a clean install of the GPU drivers, just to be sure it's not some wonky software issue – no change. Rebooted in the safe mode, used Display Driver Uninstaller and reinstalled the GPU drivers altogether. Problem still persists.
  13. Connected the display via HDMI instead of DP and rebooted – no change.
  14. At this point, I decided to disassemble, clean and reassemble the GPU once more, while doing another visual inspection. Getting the exact same result, I decided to ask for help here :)
Some additional details and observations:
  • My GPU tended to maintain high operating temperature during gaming for months now. In-game reported temperatures were usually in the 90-98°C range. In hindsight, I probably should have done something about it earlier, but I use this PC for gaming occasionally.
  • Sometimes, my Dell display would not be recognized as G-SYNC-capable when Windows started. Reconnecting the DP plug to the display always helped so I could use the GTX 770-capped 120 Hz refresh rate in games. But this means that both the plug and the port might have seen some strain.
  • I don't really have any other GPUs lying around. Neither do I have another PC to test the 770 with. I do have a hot air rework station however (used it to revive an old MacBook Pro with GPU issues a couple of times).
My current guess is that the GPU is damaged due to getting overheated over the months. I realize that fixing a GPU is usually not very feasible (in case it is what's damaged here). But I'm also afraid I might have damaged the PCIe slot on the motherboard as reseating the GTX required some force.
Select technical specifications:
  • GPU: MSI GTX 770, 2 GB DDR5 (N770 TF 2GD5/OC)
  • Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty H87 Performance
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K
  • RAM: 4 x 4 GB DDR3 @ 1600 MHz, CL9
  • OS: Windows 10 Pro
  • PSU: be quiet! Pure Power L8 500 W
  • Display 1: Dell S2417DG (connected via DisplayPort)
  • Display 2: LG 22EA53VQ-P (connected via DVI)
Any help would be greatly appreciated!